Back garden wedding - Hazel & Dan's Powys wedding photography

When we met to discuss their plans, Hazel and Dan downplayed everything to the point that I was literally just expecting a casual garden party with only a smidge of "wedding" about it. What I arrived to was a full blown, beautifully curated back garden wedding that would have looked at home on the pages of a bridal magazine.

The ceremony was held under an archway in the garden of Hazel's family home, which has been painstakingly built over the past few decades by her father, an artisanal wood carver. Personal touches were abundant at every turn, from the hand painted signage to the gigantic (and I mean GIGANTIC) hand carved wooden bowls that held the best wedding salads this veggie wedding photographer has ever seen! 

With the weather having been rather damp in the run up to the day, everyone was very happy to be gifted with a dry day complete with some beautiful evening sun, perfect for some golden hour wedding portraits!

Gorgeous blooms by Anne Whysall Florists; handmade salad bowls by Ockenden Timber; music by Chop Shop.

 

Olivia Moon Photography is a Shropshire wedding photographer offering UK documentary wedding photography, destination wedding photography, festival wedding photography and natural wedding photography.

Shropshire is the place to be... a wedding photographer!

Shropshire is a hidden gem. At a wedding I was photographing recently the father of the bride welcomed guests to the county by saying that he knew most of them “didn’t know where on earth Shropshire was before they came, and half of them still didn’t have a clue where they were.” He was only half joking; when I tell people I’m from Shropshire, I’m usually met with a blank stare. Either that or an exaggerated “Oh, THROPTHIRE” if I’m in Australia (a strange relic from a 1990’s coffee advert, apparently).

So why on earth did Shropshire pull me back to the UK after four years living and loving the long hot Australian summers? Sydney has an incredibly reputation as a hotbed of wedding photography, with some of the worlds best coming from her fair shores, but here I was packing up my life and heading back to 5 weeks of summer a year, unpredictable wedding weather conditions and living with a hot water bottle stuffed down my pants for six months of the year.

Well, here goes:

1.     Unknown equals unspoilt, dontcha know? I’m no city girl. Tried it, got the t-shirt, got fed up of the t-shirt and the city. Shropshire is a remote wilderness by comparison. Sharing a border with Wales, my home county is a dreamscape of rolling green hills, winding country lanes and cosy pubs. This equals plenty of beautiful rural weddings to shoot, which means mandatory welly wearing, wildflower bouquets and frolicking/trespassing in the open countryside.

2.     Family. They’re pretty important, I’m sure you’ll agree, and I was missing out on my family, albeit a tiny one. My gran is an incredible 96 years old, my dad is getting on a bit, and my family of friends has started expanding through the birth of some new small people. Now I get to see my gran three times a week, hang out with my dad on the farm, and be a physical presence in my friends kids lives.

3.     Old things. Australia is a pretty new country compared to England, and as much as I love art deco architecture, I was really missing higgledy piggledy buildings. This feeds into my wedding photography too – Shropshire offers a huge list of stately home wedding venues, and two of them are just down the road from me (Walcot Hall and Garthmy Hall).

4.     Proximity to…well, anywhere. England may be small in comparison to Australia, but she’s well connected! It takes five hours to fly across the breadth Australia, but now I can be in Greece, Turkey or Morocco in that time or less. Tack on two hours and I can be in the USA. A huge part of the reason I became a wedding photographer in the first place was the idea of being able to travel and work – it’s proving much easier to realise my dream of being a destination wedding photographer with the UK as my base, with weddings in Ireland, France and the USA already in the pipeline for next year.

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Incredible Ireland, a wedding photographer's dream

I'm definitely guilty of looking to far flung, exotic destinations for adventure, but Ireland has been on my radar for a long time and so when I was booked for two Irish weddings at either end of April this year I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a busman's holiday (quite literally, as I was travelling in my campervan, Sunny the Wonderbus).

Whether it was the sheer beauty of the place, or the endorphins coursing through my veins as my hyperactive boyfriend pushed me to cycle and walk my way through the most active couple of weeks of my life I'll never know, but it's safe to say that I was pretty emotional; every day something, someone or someplace moved me to tears of happiness.

Rather than write up the whole trip, here are my top ten, in no particular order:

1. The Ring of Kerry. Mind blowing scenery, towering mountains and ancient native woodland.

2. The Gap of Dunloe. We hired bikes in Killarney and caught the boat from Ross Castle to Kate Kearney's Cottage then cycled up to the Gap from there. Not for the faint hearted - the route is steep and winding, but so worth it when you get to the top.

3. The Connemara. Ponies, windswept wild scenery and lots of water. We didn't explore much on the way up, but I was doing the photography for a wedding at Cashel House Hotel, Connemara, so later I explored more and was blown away.

4. Galway City. A vibrant, musical hub with campervan parking right in the centre, perfect! We tried the sessions at Tig Cóilí and Taaffes Bar, both of which were packed with tourists like us, before heading over the river to Cranes Bar where it was much more local feeling and there were incredible sessions going on upstairs and downstairs.

5. Trad session at De Barras, Clonakilty. So many amazing musicians crammed into the bar at De Barras, the friendly locals made sure we knew where the craic was! 

6. Dingle and the Slea Peninsula. I loved Dingle for the colourful houses and the relaxed atmosphere. We parked up overnight on the Marina, and hired bikes the next day to cycle 52km around the Slea Peninsula - it was hard going as we were cycling into the wind for a lot of it, but the views were incredible and we saw a pod of dolphins really close to the shore.

7. Cliffs of Moher. Mindblowing cliffs, and a very very windy walk where I was sure I was going to get blown into the sea. 

8. Baltimore Fiddle Fair. My dad just happened to be visiting Baltimore with friends towards the end of my trip, so I ended up changing my ferry ticket and staying a few more days to catch some of the action at the Baltimore Fiddle Fair - I met some lovely people, incredible musicians and even spotted Jeremy Irons playing a spot of fiddle himself!

9. Matt Molloy's, Westport. Having cycled 42kms of The Western Greenway that day, we were thirsty for a stout and some good music. Everybody recommends Matt Molloy's, owned by its namesake who happens to be one of the Chieftans (a famous trad Irish band). We stumbled upon a huge session taking place, eventually realising that we'd actually walked straight into Matt Molloy's wedding! We were treated to the biggest session the pub had ever seen, apparently, and had a grand old time!

10. The Ring of Beara. Now, I'm not entirely sure that I was technically allowed to drive this in Sunny the Wonderbus  - the road is incredibly narrow and winding, and I'm pretty sure I was over the width and length limit! But I drove in nonetheless, with only a couple of hairy moments and one massively long and challenging downhill reverse. The scenery was incredible and it was well worth the anxiety!

All in all it was one of the best trips of my life, and being able to practise my Irish wedding photography while I was there was such a bonus! I'm hoping that there'll be some photography referrals from my lovely Irish couples, as I'd love to return photograph more weddings over there. Needless to say I'll be back in Ireland before long, as a wedding photographer or not!

Olivia Moon Photography is a destination wedding photographer and documentary wedding photographer shooting Shropshire weddings, Irish weddings, European weddings, Australian weddings and New Zealand weddings.

Cashel House Hotel Connemara wedding photography - Anna & Mark

Anna and Mark's wedding came at the end of a three week adventure up the west coast of Ireland in my campervan (more on that shortly). By the time I reached the tiny village of Cashel in the Connemara, Co. Galway, I had fallen well and truly head-over-heels in love with Ireland, and have to admit I shed a little happy tear when I first set eyes on Anna and Mark's venue, the beautiful Cashel House Hotel.

The hotel was set in abundant gardens, with a plethora of flower-filled nooks and crannies to escape to for our couples portraits, not to mention an atmospheric windswept waterfront across the road. The wedding came at the end of what I believe could be termed as something of a heatwave by Irish standards, and Anna and Mark were blessed with a mostly dry day.

Every part of the wedding was painstakingly considered to make sure it all had a personal feel, from their close friend leading the ceremony, to the hand gathered petal confetti which the couple had been collecting everywhere they went (including their Greek holiday). Guests enjoyed traditional Irish music in the evening, followed by a playlist put together by Anna and Mark - it must have hit the spot because the party was in full swing as I ducked out!

Suppliers as follows - Makeup: C Beauty with Fiona; Hair: Helga Kampff at It's Fabulous; Flowers: Yes Flowers (hair flowers by the Bride); Dress by The White Room

Ireland wedding photography by Olivia Moon Photography. Olivia Moon is a UK wedding photographer, Irish wedding photographer, destination wedding photographer specialising in creative storytelling documentary wedding photography in England, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Fiona and Dave's luxurious Irish wedding

Fiona had emailed me to warn me that Irish weddings were "a bit different" to English ones - she explained that they tend to go on longer and later, and that the Irish enjoy a good party. Well, all I can say is that they didn't let me down!

Fiona and Dave are long-termers - it was clear from our first Skype meeting that they had been together a long time, and that their wedding was to be a celebration of their relationship and a bringing together of the families with their son Cormac. They chose to hold their wedding celebrations at the beautiful Castlemartyr Resort near Cork, Ireland, to give their guests the chance to enjoy the luxurious setting with good food and wine.

Fiona had sourced some lovely handmade elements from Etsy (Fran Johnson House and Personalised by Post), and her beautiful beaded dress was Theia Couture from Folkster Bridal, with hair by Jenny McSweeney of The Upstylist and makeup by Liz McCarthy. The beautiful flowers were by The Village Florist Castlemartyr.

Shropshire wedding photography - Steve & Laura's winter Walcot Hall wedding

I love a bit of alliteration, so how could I resist this winter wonderland Walcot Hall wedding? Steve and Laura chose a December date to say their vows at one of my favourite local venues, Walcot Hall, just a few minutes down the road from me in Shropshire.

It's lovely to see more couples going for winter nuptials. I think they're magical - all those twinkling lights, winter foliage and log fires, not to mention the building excitement in the approach to the festive season. The low light is also an opportunity for a wedding photographer to get creative as it poses a unique set of challenges!

The cosy fires and warm atmosphere meant that the whole day felt more intimate than some of the summer weddings I've shot, and it was a joy to be part of Steve and Laura's lovely day.

Olivia Moon is a Shropshire wedding photographer based in Bishop's Castle, and available for destination wedding photography bookings in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. 

Shropshire wedding photography - Matt and Tabs' idyllic rural wedding

Tabs grew up clambering around the Shropshire countryside in school holidays when she visited her family holiday home, so it was the perfect location for she and Matt hold their dream wedding. They chose to get married in the village church at Hopesay, where Tabs had attended many Christmas services over the years, and moved to the next village along for the reception at the beautifully renovated Edgton Village Hall.

Surrounded by rolling Shropshire Hills, the village hall provided an idyllic rural backdrop to the celebrations. Inside the hall had been festooned with local hops and beautiful blooms by Flowers by Daisy. It was a wedding photographer's dream!

Matt and Tabs met at university, which made for a great gathering of mutual friends, a lot of whom knew each other from university days - the energy of weddings where this is the case is my absolute favourite atmosphere to shoot in, being equal parts raw emotion and a stonking good party, and I didn't want to leave at the end of the night!

 

 

Shropshire wedding photography - Sammy and Jack's festival wedding

Aware that Jack had a history of putting on great parties and raves in the forestry around Shropshire, I had an inkling that his and Sammy's festival wedding at Mahorall's Cider Farm on Clee Hill would be an affair to remember. We were all keeping our fingers and toes crossed for a sunny day, but I woke up on the morning to post apocalyptic scenes of storm damage - trees had fallen along my route and the view from Clee Hill was obscured by thick cloud. The drive was slow, and with Sammy's admission of there not being a wet-weather plan ringing in my ears, I'll admit to being a bit nervous about what I might find when I got to the venue.

I needn't have worried. The bride and groom, and most of their guests were seasoned festival-goers - having spent many a wet weekend up to their knees in mud, a bit of drizzle wasn't going to stop them having a good old party! After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a delicious buffet provided by T Catering (I should know, I got in on the action too), and then took to the dancefloor for a Ceilidh! The music went on into the night with live electro swing from perfect festival wedding band The After Hours.

Sammy and Jack's amazing festival wedding has to be one of my favourites of the summer - from all the guests getting down for a boogy as the couple walked up the aisle together to all the beautiful handmade touches, not forgetting my turn as a "human drone", balancing atop a stack of haybales to fill in for the drone photographer who had cancelled because of the weather! Thanks for having me guys, it was truly memorable!